October 1981

Fat Doctors Who Smoke

Dan S. Shipley

Most have heard about the overweight smoker who, after taking his annual physical exam, was lectured at length by his doctor on the dangers of smoking and obesity. When asked by the doctor what he intended to do about these things he replied, "Sir, I'm going to go out and find me a fat doctor who smokes!"

Herein, even if in a humorous vein, is revealed an all too common response to judgements that expose our weaknesses and call for correction. You might expect adverse reactions when such judgements are rendered in ridicule or from ulterior motives, but not when their purpose is for our profit And if this is true in the physical realm, how much more so in the spiritual? Yet, even here it is not unusual to find some looking for "fat doctors who smoke." It was so in the days of Isaiah for he writes of those who wanted such prophets as would speak unto them "smooth things" and not right things (Isa. 30:10). Recall also how wicked Ahab hated the prophet Micaiah because, he said, "he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil" (1 Kings 22:8). Faithful Micaiah had spoken only what the Lord had told him (v. 14) but this was not what Ahab wanted to hear. Many modern Ahabs feel the same about God's word.

Indeed, God said it would continue this way. "For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth and turn aside unto fables" (2 Tim. 4:3,4). They will leave the faith, but not religion. Their measure of acceptable preaching will be personal preference rather than sound doctrine. To this end, they will hearken less unto the words of the Great Physician and heap to themselves "fat doctors who smoke", so to speak; preachers who will feed them pleasant fables instead of objectionable truth.

In fact, here is the heart of the problem. It is not that such persons find ALL truth distasteful, or even most of it. Many are deceived on this point because they think only in terms of what they receive and not what they reject. They fail to see the gospel as a system of truth — to be accepted as a unit, or not at all. This is why he who stumbles in one point is guilty of all (Jas. 2:10). Not that he has violated every law, but that in the violation of one, he reflects disregard for the entire system of law as well as the Lawgiver. Now, which laws do violators not want to hear about do you suppose? The answer is obvious because the truth that incriminates is often the truth that irritates. However, it is also such truth that convicts and converts. This is the means by which the Holy Spirit convicts the world in respect of sin (Jn. 16:8). It is not a question as to whether this Truth or its faithful spokesman may show us to be wrong on some point. They will expose our spiritual infirmities — and they must, because only the convicted can be changed! May we love, respect and respond to God's truth, even when it hurts — and shun the counsel of "fat doctors who smoke"!